A baby can fill your heart and home with love and delight. And when you have twins, you experience the joy twice over! With of course twice the mess, nappies, clothes, toys, feeds and toilet trips! Parents to twins often hear ooh’s and aah’s from friends and relatives and even strangers! But parenting twins is far more challenging than known. The double dose of happiness comes with more than its share of challenges as well.
Here under are mentioned some of the biggest parenting challenges with twins right through pregnancy and well into the teenage years:
1. A rather difficult pregnancy: Said in jest, “You are so lucky, you can have two babies in one go; just one pregnancy and you are almost done”. At most times we do not estimate the magnitude of such a comment on the mum who is carrying twins. Pregnancy in general comes with its fair share of complications and when you are carrying twins these complications can generally multiply many fold. Twin pregnancies come with extreme side effects and unforeseen complications that can affect either or both babies in terms of their growth and well-being. Physically carrying twins is an overbearing experience of the mother and the added weight only makes the entire nine month exercise a herculean one. In addition to this delivering twins be it normal or caesarian delivery is generally not completely risk- free and is also amongst the hardest things to do.
2. Sleep Deprivation: Parents to twins (especially mums) deserve a standing ovation! Soon after a physically draining pregnancy and delivery, parents are faced with little or no sleep at all! Sleep is a rare pleasure as you parent twins in those initial years after birth. Just like a single pregnancy, even with twins, both the new born will sleep odd hours and may at times following different sleeping and feeding schedules, that amount to little sleep for mum. Physically bringing up twins, during the initial months after delivery can be very stressful on sleep deprived parents to twins. Eventually parents to twins learn to cope up with lack of sleep and manage with power naps wherever they can!
3. Feeds and nappies: Just a single child can generate a load of soiled nappies and with two you can literally fill a landfill! Breastfeeding mums particularly find it difficult to feed, burp, and change nappies twice over and almost always back-to-back. Both mum and dad can find it inadequate to be at the same time with both the babies. Lack of sleep can further add to the existing woes of parents.
4. Mess twice over: If a single child can make mess, then two can literally rule the kingdom of mess! Twins are capable of creating mess to gigantic proportions and it is almost impossible to take an eye off twins be it in the bath or play or feeds or at time of the day. When two minds work together, they can come up with epic disasters! Parents to twins need to gear up to both face and clear messes as a part of their normal routine each and every single day!
5. Retaining Individuality: With every twin (particularly the identical twins), the world perceives them as one, conveniently ignoring the fact that beyond being born at the same time, each child is a person in their own right. The twin equation amongst themselves can further complicate matters. Right from the time they are born to well into their growing up years twins will be faced with comparisons at every quarter. Be it at school or with friends or well-meaning relatives and guests, twins can almost never escape the comparison game. Parents of twins need to work extra hard to retain each child’s individuality and in the process bring out the best in each of their kids. Parents to twins will face questions at every stage of parenting; Do we keep them in the same class/not? Do we dress them alike/not? Do we let them play with the same friend group or not? These questions only multiply and finding answers can generally be very challenging.
6. Twin roles in one go: As twins grow up simultaneously, parents to twins have to perform all duties twice over too and at the same time as well. Duties relating to feeding, toilet training, home -work, picking and dropping to and from extra classes, arranging finances for higher education, pre-puberty and puberty years, difficult teenage years and talks etc. Parents need to learn to be at two places at once and often vary their approaches to the same situation depending on the nature and psychology of each twin. Most good events in the life of a twin such as birthday, first day at school, graduation, farewells etc. are also generally shared and making each child feel special and unique at the same time can be challenging.
7. Peer Discrimination: Since twins grow up together for all practical purposes they share their lives in more ways than one. As compared to normal siblings, twins will generally have the same friend circle and peer group. This can make them easy targets to peer bullying, discrimination or teasing. Twins can be left disappointed when one of them is preferred over the other within their peer group or even in school programs and events. To deal with this kind of hurt or discrimination can be very challenging to both twins and their parents. A lot of counselling by the parent may be called for in everyday situations faced by twins.
8. Being a fair parent to both: Being a parent to twins means gearing up to provide equal opportunities, equal resources and equal means to both the children at the same time without any discrimination. Parents to twins need to gear up to look at merits of each of the twin and treat them fairly at all times. Parents need to be certain not to practice favoritism of any kind and provide equal opportunities to each of their twin to grow and excel. This can be indeed challenging not just physically and emotionally but financially as well.
9. Twin Squabbling: Much as parents to twins would like to believe that twin kids function as a single unit that is bound by perfect harmony and symphony, in reality they will understand that twin squabbling is an everyday fact that cannot be put aside. Unknowingly twins begin competing with each other early on in life and sometimes within the mother’s womb itself! And this competition and squabbling can continue well in to the teenage years and beyond. Constant fighting and playing referee to those fights can be a very draining experience to a parent to a twin. Parents have to be certain to not take sides and find a way to minimize the squabbling wherever practical.
10. Being with just one when needed: Twins grow up together and right from day one parents are also used to doing all activities with them together. Be it feeding, cleaning or driving down to school, parents mostly have both kids with them at any given point of time. In these circumstances making time for just one when needed can be very challenging. Parents can find it very difficult to interact with each twin one-on –one and sometimes issues that bother any one of the twin can go overlooked or unattended. Parents to twins should however learn to treat each child as a single unit and learn to address their anxieties and fears separately from the other.
Parenting twins is often challenging and tedious. But with patience and the right approach, parents can learn the skill and often excel at it as well.
First published in Mommypower.in