Get some help. If you can’t rota in supportive family or friends (see 2) then seriously consider buying in a temporary night nanny for a night or two each week for the first 8 weeks. We convinced ourselves we couldn’t afford this, but honestly I’d sooner have gone heavily overdrawn or taken out a loan than been so sleep deprived I was hallucinating.
Only have family or friends to stay who you really like and who like you as you will be on roller coaster of emotions and insecurities and you need to be with people who make you feel good. Having my mother-in-law to stay for two weeks brought me very close to post natal depression as she was so undermining of my skills as a parent.
But don’t leave it too long before you are on your own with your twins. For me this didn’t happen until week seven by which time I’d convinced myself I wouldn’t be able to cope alone.
Discover the power of a fifteen minute nap. I read this tip on a TAMBA factsheet and it really does work. Set an alarm for 15 minutes and drift off – ideally when your twins are also sleeping but even when they were grizzling in their Moses baskets, it still worked for me. It does seem to top up your energy reserves to get you through the next few hours. Forget baby grows or anything with poppers for the first few weeks. It’s simply too much hassle with all of those changes you have to do. Use old fashioned long nightdresses instead, even if just at night. They sell them in John Lewis with a pillowcase fold at the bottom to stop them riding up.
Eat properly. Do try and stock up the freezer before the twins are born and have a few healthy snacks you can rustle up quickly. My favourite was peanut butter and banana on a wholemeal bagel.
Don’t be guilt tripped into breast feeding if it’s not working for you. I did mixed feeding from the start and gave up breastfeeding after ten weeks. I felt awful about it at the time but this is when I really started to enjoy my maternity leave as I wasn’t hooked up to a breast pump for hours a day. I used Aptimil formula, never had colicky babies and Eve and Leah where the healthiest babies in my NCT group.
The washing – oh my, the washing! It’s such a shock and you have to pretty much give up on ironing. I still keep to the system I started when I was on my maternity leave. I have two big plastic lidded boxes one labelled folding and one labelled ironing.
Almost everything gets chucked into the folding box once it’s washed and dry and when the box is full we fold it up. The boxes stack neatly in our spare room and once a week we empty the iron box. This has stopped mountains of crumpled laundry in laundry baskets all over the house.
Get out the house! I always found a 20 minute walk as beneficial as a nap in terms of energising me, plus I loved all of the attention Eve and Leah got. I tried always to have the change bag ready to go and by the front door to minimise the time it took to get out of the house.
Don’t pander to visitors – ask them to bring supplies with them and give them chores to do when they arrive – such as folding the laundry – no one minds and people like to feel useful.
Meet up with other twin mums at the DDTC mornings or park meets. It’s so useful and affirming to share stories and tips. For example another mum shared with me the genius tip of propping a bottle up with a bean bag toy under babies chin so I could feed both babies at the same time in their baby chairs.
We followed the routine in Gina Ford’s book from two weeks and found it very helpful in giving us back some of our evenings. I think you have to have a tight routine with twins and we followed this until they were well into toddlerdom.
Enjoy this time and take lots of photos. It’s a massive cliché but so true that the baby phase it is over quickly. We all get so much pleasure now looking at the photos we took during this time.
Leonie from East Dulwich, mum to Leah and Eve 4