Two essays I recently read on Babble — one by a husband who is unhappy his wife’s expecting twins and the other by his wife who thinks having twins will ruin her family — rubbed me the wrong way. Throughout the wife’s essay, she repeats “We only wanted one…,” which left me scratching my head. As the mother of twin two-year-olds, I know that having multiples is no cakewalk. But any parent of twins will tell you that their kids might just be the biggest blessing of their life — and that the twin journey is filled with unexpected bonuses for any parent who chooses to go into it with a “glass half-full” approach. Check out these 7 surprising things I’ve come to love about raising twins…
1. Your kids have to share-
This, of course, does not mean that your twins will want to share. But whether they want to or not, they must. Your household may quickly devolve into a scene from Lord of the Flies if there aren’t enough LEGOs to go around, but your kids will at least understand the concept of sharing, if not the full-fledged practice of doing so. That’s the beauty of direct competition and having two kids develop social skills at the exact same age. Think of it as a forced conscientiousness that the world doesn’t always revolve around them.
2. You can’t helicopter parent-
Have you seen the parent at the park who walks behind their kid’s every step, just waiting for something to go awry? While safety will always be your number-one priority, you won’t be physically capable of hovering over both of your kids each moment of their developmental journey. This might mean more bumps and bruises along the way, but the upshot is that your twins will have plenty of room to explore and test limits on their own. Disclaimer: You might want to treat childproofing your home with the care NASA takes to prep a space launch.
3. You have a blackbelt in dealing with strangers-
Parents of twins are subject to routine invasions of privacy. Everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to the lady in the Starbucks line will quiz you about your fertility journey, ask whether your children are identical, and tell a story about twins they know. People will regularly ask questions including (but certainly not limited to): Did you breastfeed? How much weight did you gain? How was your C-section recovery/NICU stay/state of your marriage post-children? You’ll learn to easily spot the difference between a well-intentioned sympathizer and a serial busybody and will amuse yourself with the many ways you can answer or dodge a barrage of questions depending on your mood.
4. You have very little free time-
This sounds crazy, I know. With two little ones constantly demanding your attention, there are many days where you may not find much time to yourself. How do you make this work in your favor? When your free moments are few and far between, you learn to maximize them by becoming an efficiency machine and doing only what you love during your “off-hours.” You embrace the art of guarding (or even planning) your free time so you don’t waste a second of it. The laundry can wait.
5. You are only sort of a ‘first time parent’-
If twins are your first kids, you get the benefit of being somewhat of a first-time and second-time parent all at once. How’s that? Parents of more than one child often marvel at how different their children are at some point in their development. As a parent of twins, you’ll probably marvel a whole lot sooner. Parents of multiples tend to realize very early on that their kids are completely different people, with often opposite desires, reactions, and inclinations. The take-home lesson? You quickly learn that much of what kids do is hard-wired. You can’t make a risk-averse child a daredevil or a clingy kid a social butterfly. So inevitably, you’ll spend less time worrying that your twins’ reactions and personality traits are products of your parenting. They’re each doing their own thing, and you’re just along for the ride.
6. You learn to say no-
If you’re the kind of person who routinely over-commits or has trouble turning down social engagements, there’s nothing like a batch of twins to cure your inability to say “no.” Parents of twins learn to pick and choose what their family is capable of achieving and which events they can reasonably attend. Your calendar may be a bit pared down during your kids’ first years, but that’s okay.
7. Your tolerance goes up-
Whining, crying, blowout diapers, viruses — you’re going to get double the dose of all of these. At some point you just have to throw in the towel and let a new (angelic) tolerance take over. I consider my girls’ “first year alive” my free pass to heaven.