I remember when I was first pregnant, my husband and I merrily thought that twins would be a great way to get the whole pregnancy and baby thing over in on go. HA. Like two babiest at once wouldn’t have sent us over the edge. Fortunately, Marie-Claire Dorking is far more of a wonder woman that I am. Freelance writer/editor, founder of Skribe London and mother of five-year-old twins, Leo and Maeve (find her on Twitter @MarieDorking) – we’re thrilled/awed to discover what she’s learned about parenting two small people, simultaneously.
“‘How do you feel about twins?’ The sonographer asked expectantly. ‘Er…’ was our response. It’s pretty much the same, five years on. Having two babies to deal with literally plummets you head first into parenting. You have no choice but to survive, although you do feel like you’re going to drown pretty much every day. Now as we’re starting to come up for air, and not in the thick of those foggy first few months, I can look at it a tad more objectively…
You can’t be a helicopter parent
Having two babies who will often want to head off in opposite directions means you have no choice but to pick a twin to hurtle after. I regularly get other parents asking me if its okay that one of my children is hanging upside down off the fireman’s pole/helping themselves to abandoned crisps off the floor/rolling around in dog poo. My indifferent shrug often baffles them, but as you literally can’t be in two places at once, there are times when you’re just going to have to let it go. The upside of this enforced laissez-faire approach to parenting means that the twins learned pretty quickly how to find their own boundaries, which is a good thing right? Right?
Everything is a phase
As soon as you start to allow yourself the thought, that maybe, just maybe you’re beginning to get this parenting twins thing licked, one baby, or more likely both, will stop sleeping, start refusing all food (except cake!), throwing a killer tantrum every time they’re put in the car seat. But, though, every single time I’d be sent right back to those emotional first few months, when everything would send me into a spiral of desperation, eventually I learnt that no matter how bad it seems, it is a phase and this too shall pass.
There’s no such thing as the perfect double buggy
Tandems (one in front of the other) lull you into a false sense of belief that they’re practically the same size as a single. And when you’ve only got to transport two teeny newborns in them, they pretty much are. Try hoiking two hulking toddlers and a weekly shop up the kerb, then you’ll know what I mean. Side by sides? Easier to hoik, but try manoeuvring one down the aisle of a Tesco Metro and see how many elderly ankles you take out? Single buggy envy is totally a thing! I know because I spent countless hours lusting after shiny, happy celebrities and their shiny, happy single buggies!
Done is good enough
In those foggy early days I took on the role of dictator, micromanaging everything from loading the steriliser (it was like a game of bottle jenga!) to changing the perfect nappy (yes, really!) I was convinced I was the only one who knew how to do it, just so. But the truth is, I was giving myself an extra headache that I certainly didn’t need. The name of the game with two, particularly early doors, is survival. Gradually I realised that people will have different ways of doing things, but ultimately they will get the job done. Oh and there really is no right way to change a nappy. If it’s on, backwards or otherwise, it’s changed!
People find twins fascinating
Especially when they are babies. You can’t go anywhere in a hurry, okay mainly because you will never be able to go anywhere in a hurry every again, but also because people will stop you to ask about them. A. Lot. ‘Are they twins?’ Yes. ‘Are they identical?’ Er, nope, one has a winky. ‘Do twins run in your family?’ I have no idea. And don’t even get me started on the ‘Are they natural?’ one. I’ve got used to it now, but in the beginning all the attention was a little overwhelming. If ever I did brave it to a normal playgroup ie not one aimed at parents of multiples, other new mums would find my very being utterly fascinating, putting me up on some kind of supermum pedestal. ‘OMG you have two, I’m not coping with one!’ But the truth was, I wasn’t ‘coping’ I was just about existing. And though I think they meant well it always made me feel a little bit of a freak and sent me scuttling back to the sanctuary of twin club.”