10 comments and questions you will almost definitely get from strangers when out and about with twins
You have got your hands full (no shit Sherlock!)
Was it planned? (Cue very confused expression from the twin mama/papa. Not sure how you plan twins but if anyone finds out let me know.)
Oh shit/poor you! (Got this one a lot when I first started telling people I was pregnant with twins. I didn’t really care as despite the initial few days of shock my husband and I were really happy and very positive about it all. But I can imagine this would be a bit insensitive to mums who are feeling scared and worried about the prospect.)
Did you get two for the price of one? (Usually from slightly elder people. They think it’s really funny so just humour them and laugh along)
Did you have IVF? (If you are the asker please save this one only for people you know really well, or at least say hello first! My friends who HAVE had IVF are very open and happy to talk about it amongst friends but nobody should be put into the position where a complete stranger comes straight out and asks them such a personal question!)
Did they come out at the same time or one after the other? (Ok so maybe this was just a question I got asked but it was so hilarious that I had to include it. The (very sweet) female owner of a local cafe genuinely asked me this question. One of those questions you should just keep to yourself and go home and google it, right? For anyone else still wondering – they do come out one after another- mine were only 5 minutes apart!
Did you have a C Section? (Standard- every twin mum will be asked this)
Did you know you were having twins? (I have had this a few times believe it or not. Imagine the sheer shock of expecting just one baby to come out and realising there are two! Now I know from watching Call the Midwife (reliable source) that this actually used to happen years ago…but luckily we have scans now. So no surprise second babies.)
I had a friend/sister/brother/uncle etc etc who was a twin/I am a twin (Again standard, all twin mamas and papas will get this. Makes me realise actually how many twins are about!)
What happens when they both cry at once? (Nearly always get this one when I am out and about and they ARE both crying at once. And my toddler is about to ride his bike into the pond. Not super helpful to also have to add answering strangers’ questions into the equation. If you are this person try offering the twin mama/papa help and save the questions for afterwards. As well a multitude of useless questions I have a lot of help from kind strangers when I’m out and about. People who watch my toddler play with theirs while I have my hands full feeding the twins. People who watch the twins while I run to the toilet with my toddler who needs a wee. People who take a baby and feed them for me while I am feeding the other. I also get a lot of compliments and positivity, ‘You are doing really well, I struggle with just one’, ‘You are so lucky – it must be hard now but what a blessing’ and ‘You look so well- you don’t look like you have three under three!’ And I happily take these as on a really tough day it really helps to boost morale! So twin parents, despite the weird and wonderful comments we get from some, here’s to the kindness of strangers!
Anyone had any other weird/funny/downright intrusive questions/comments from strangers to add to this list?
A selection of tips for new twin parents, straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth
They say that hindsight is a wonderful thing. The great thing about getting tips from other twin parents is that they have been there, done that. So I have asked various lovely twin parent friends for their top tips for new twin parents to save you guys doing the research… However, (caveat coming up!) when it comes from getting advice from others with regards to all things parenting (and in life generally funnily enough), I would say take what you find useful and leave the rest. Ironically enough, my own top tip for having twins or singletons would be to try to shut off to a lot of the noise around you regarding parenting. Everyone has an opinion on what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your children and I found that I am happiest when I shut off to the pressures from print and social media, peers, so-called parenting ‘bibles’ and find my own way. In fact the best thing I did first time round with Gabriel was to throw my parenting books away! My other piece of advice would be to get out of the house everyday without fail. Parenting can be a fabulous but lonely job at times and getting out of the house gives you and the kids fresh air, a change of scenery and some interaction with others (other adults for you and other kids for your little ones).
So now check out the top tips from other twin parents-
Zainab- Try and sync the feeding and bed routines 😊
Liana- Ask for help, Accept help, Get help. You will need it. Whether it’s family, friends, council, NHS, private, work experience students, online mums groups or something else. It will all be worth it.
Yvonne- It’s a marathon not a sprint. If someone offers to help let them help you…and not by holding a baby- that’s not helping!
Queenie- I wish I’d known about Tandem Baby Wearing when I first had mine. Weego would have been amazing! I only knew of TwinGo but I could only use that once they got good neck control. It would have saved me lots of stress when I was left alone.
Magda- In the first months after your twins are born, don’t hang out with mums of singletons too much. I did and it made me feel even more overwhelmed than I already was.
Cathy- 1. Join a twin club. If there’s not one then start your own. It is essential. 2. Ignore the advice of anyone who is not eligible to join a twin club.
Joanna- 1. Don’t be afraid of bottles. (I wasted a lot of time in the hospital ‘cup feeding’ my tiny twin with the hope she could then exclusively breastfeed later on). Just figure out the best way for your babies to get fed, and do it. 2. Leave the house every day. It may seem daunting but once you do it you’ll feel so much better. And the comments you get with the twins make it worth it.
Philippa- Don’t feel pressurised to breastfeed. You have TWO babies and if you can’t do it or it’s not for you, that’s absolutely ok!!!!
Faye- Remember that nothing lasts forever, sleepless nights will eventually be a thing of the past. I sometimes miss the 3am snuggles and feeding. When your other half is driving you nuts because you are tired and he just isn’t getting it, tell him but always remember to be kind. Join a twins group. Other twin parents are the bees knees, only they can understand. When your friends with two children a year apart tell you it’s the same as having twins, smile and walk away. They don’t know that they just can’t know! And mostly get help!
Good luck twin parents to be! X
If there is one thing I love almost as much as shopping for clothes for myself, it is shopping for baby clothes. We have not had to buy a lot for Javi and Rapha as we are very lucky and have been given tons of gorgeous clothes, but I was really happy to receive some vouchers from family that I have just used to buy the twins and Gabriel some lovely outfits. I really love all the monochrome pieces with wild animal prints/ clouds/ flashes of neon you see in a lot of trendy London boutiques at the moment so I was really happy to find similar items on the high street. The Myleene Klass range ‘My K’ at Mothercare looks very Scandi boutique-esque incorporating playful monochrome prints in soft, comfy fabrics. Mothercare’s own ‘Modern’ range has a lot of animals on grey with splashes of pastel and neon tones and their Superbaby range is ideal for mini wannabe superheros! Swedish brand Polarn O.Pyret also has some gorgeous animal print pieces. Look at the boys’ fun new wardrobes!
Single mums I bow down to you. I actually don’t know how you do it. One of my biggest fears about having kids was the fact my husband travels with work. How would I cope with the children on my own? It was hard enough at times when he travelled and we didn’t have kids, never mind when we had a little tribe of bambinos depending on us!
But then I think of the people whose partners are in the army, the people who have divorced or lost partners, the people who have chosen to raise kids alone and I feel embarrassed…seriously if they can do it then who am I to whinge about a measly week a month holding the fort when my husband is such a super papa the rest of the time? (really, he is amazing)
Now I’m not saying I find it easy now, but here are a few tips I have found helped to make the situation more bearable (and sometimes even quite fun!)
Don’t get annoyed with your partner for travelling with work
I’m not saying I never feel annoyed with the situation, but at the end of the day it’s his job. It’s no easier for him to get up in the early hours of Sunday morning to take a long haul flight to whichever country he has to go that month than it is for me to keep everything running at home on my own. Yes there are perks- he gets to see new places, stay in nice hotels, meet new people but he also misses his little family, loses a day or two of his weekends taking flights, works long hours and often eats dinner in the hotel restaurant on his own. So try not to blame your partner and instead support them- you are a team at the end of the day…. (still a bit jealous that he gets a few blissful full night’s sleep at the mo though : ) ahem…)
Make arrangements with friends
Be careful with this one. It’s nice to plan a few things with friends and family to make the most of seeing them (and their kids if they have kids) whilst your hubbie is away but try not to expect too much. I used to feel disappointed if friends didn’t want to make arrangements at the weekend or after work or even come round to give me a hand, but at the end of the day everyone has their own lives!!! Time, especially at the weekends, is precious and people have work to catch up on, household chores to do, friends and family to see, dates to go on, children to spend time with… It’s nice if they are around to spend time together or help out but DO NOT EXPECT this of friends and family. Embrace the 1-1 time (or 1-3 in my case!) you have with your kids- build a den with them under the table, make cakes, take them to the park, use CBeebies to distract one if you are finding it tough and they are triple teaming you! When I just had Gabriel we used to go for a little ‘date’ together to Kids club at the cinema on a Saturday morning. Try and get out of the house once a day to keep you and kids sane and happy. And then treat yourself to something nice when your partner gets back and you can share the load.
Remember that doing things on your own is empowering!
Is ’empowering’ a bit cheesy? I basically mean you feel a massive sense of achievement when you manage things on your own. My husband was not working abroad at this point but the first day he went back to work after 2 weeks paternity I was faced with my first day on my own with twin babies and a toddler. Oh my god – 3 kids on my own! How would I get out of the house? What would I do if they all started crying at once? I don’t have enough arms!
Actually, it all worked out really well. My lovely friend from down the road was going to a stay and play session with her LO so we tagged along and then she came over for a cup of tea afterwards. And it felt like such a huge achievement! Loads of people had told me I would never leave the house but I had gone out with 3 on my own after just 2 weeks!
Give yourself a break
On the days you are going it alone, keep food simple, don’t feel guilty about using Mr Tumble as a babysitter from time to time if you have to and try not to worry too much about household chores- you can catch up on emptying the dirty clothes basket another day.
Plan something fun for when your partner gets back
Make the most of family time when your partner is around. I try to keep a day or so free when my husband comes home to do something nice together. The other day when he came back he took the Friday off work and we and the twins went to the beautiful Palm Vaults in Hackney together (review to come) which was loooovely.
Look for the advantages
My hubbie gets hotel points and air miles with his travels which has allowed us to tag along on the end of some of his business trips- destinations have included Tunisia, South Africa, Dubai, Morocco, Vietnam, Turkey and Mauritius. Now that definitely makes the situation less painful! On a more simple level, I get to watch whatever girly crap I want on Netflix on evenings when he is away.
Get help in if you need it
My hubbie has had to work abroad 3 times since the twins were born and they are only 10 weeks so they are not sleeping through the night. I have been very lucky in that my family have been around to help for some of the time he has been away but I have also had a night nanny in to help me with the twins for a couple of nights so that I can catch up on some sleep. It’s expensive but I only used her a couple of nights and it has refreshed me just enough to enable me to be more on form for the kids in the day! Although caveat- I have found that I still wake up when the babies wake up as a) I’m not used to sleeping much at the mo and b) a mama can never quite switch off when she hears her babies cry! I have also realised that I am a bit pedantic (ok basically I am a bit of a tidy/control freak- hold my hands up to that one!) about ‘systems’ since I have had 3 as the only way to stay sane is to be organised, so sometimes it can actually be easier to do it on my own as I know where everything is.
Having your partner travel is tough at times when there are children in the mix but as you can see there are lots of advantages too! And it makes me appreciate him even more when he is around.
What is your experience of looking after kids on your own? Do you have any top tips to add to this? (Wine doesn’t count)
An open letter to Beyoncé and Jay-Z, George and Amal…
Queen Bey, George, in view of your approaching arrivals I wanted to share with you some learnings I have gleaned from my experience so far of the world of multiples…
People will ask you stupid/very personal questions
I’m not sure why people think it’s ok to ask such personal questions when you have twins as I’m pretty sure I didn’t get questions of quite the same level of intimacy with my singleton, but people (and by people I mean complete strangers in the street) have asked me everything from ‘did you have IVF then?’ to ‘did you have them naturally? Yes? Ah wow, so did they come out one after the other then?’ (No, I popped them both out simultaneously- twin mums have super powers! Didn’t you know?) What is wrong with people?!
Sharing the night feeds
George and Jay-Z, get those shades paparazzi ready as you ARE going to have to share the night feeds. Yes twins means twice the fun and twice the love but they also mean twice the waking up! My husband and I do a 9pm-2am (me) and 2pm-7pm (him) shift which works really well for us as we each get a solid 5 hours even if the rest of the night is a sleep deprived blur (which twin are you? Whose nappy did I just change again?)…We also have an unwritten rule that anything said between 11pm and 5am doesn’t count…George, Jay-Z, be cool, K? and share the load!
Your twins will become mini celebrities in themselves…
Queen Bey you think YOU are popular, wait til you have twins! People will literally stop you in the street to paw over your little beauties, checking ‘are they twins?’ (What? There was only one last time I checked!) or to tell you ‘you have your hands full love’ (thanks, I hadn’t noticed)
Other twin mamas are your rocks!
Burst Mountain Buggy tyre? Well meaning midwives/pharmacy assistants/Tracy from next door suggesting you ‘JUST tandem feed’? (Erm…have you ever tried tandem feeding twins with a toddler tugging at your sleeve asking you to play dinosaurs? No? Then pipe down)
We feel your pain.
Queen Bey, George – join your local twin club. In fact we would love to have you here at Hackney twin club so just join us! We discuss everything from embarrassing birth stories (in my case meeting about 20 doctors/consultants/midwives etc for the first time peering down at me while my legs were up in stirrups- er hi!) to tandem feeding, all with a large dose of frothy coffee and cake…George I would be happy to share my night feeding tips with you so don’t hesitate, yeah?
They WILL double team you
Or triple team you in my case if you have a singleton too (Bey you will be firmly in my camp with little Blue Ivy). You will have several moments when they are both crying and you don’t know which one to pick up first. My advice- don’t panic, stay calm- just grab the one who is becoming the most purple and you can deal with the other one afterwards!
Hope this helps…and hope to see you at twin club soon Queen Bey/George to chat birthing stories/night feeds- the door is always open! Twin mamas/papas- any other tips you would add for our celeb friends?